PANAJI: The Goa Foundation has written a detailed letter to the Director of Mines & Geology (DMG) on 4.12.2023, outlining 39 specific conditions that would have to be met by the department prior to re-start of mining in the state.
These conditions, the Foundation has pointed out, were in the form of commitments on oath made by the Goa government in its affidavit dated 10.2.2013 filed in WP No.435/2012, its rejoinder affidavit dated 9.3.2013, affidavit dated 9.11.2013, the Goa Budget Speech of 2012-13, provisions of the Goa (Prevention of Illegal Mining, Storage and Transportation of Minerals) Rules, 2013, directions given in judgments dated 21.4.2014 (Goa Foundation I) and 7.2.2018 (Goa Foundation II), compliance affidavit of government in IA No.87 in WP 435/2012, affidavit dated 1.12.2015 in WP. No.711/2015, recommendations of dump mining report of the expert committee (2014) now accepted by the Supreme Court, and DMG orders No.1535, 217, 2181, 2473.
Goa Foundation said that most of these commitments were made under oath and the Courts disposed off matters based on these commitments.
In fact, it said, in its affidavit dated 10.2.2013 in Writ Petition No.435/2012, the Government informed the Supreme Court as follows:
“I respectfully state and submit that the present Affidavit filed on behalf of the State of Goa has been thoroughly vetted, discussed and approved at the state government level and only thereafter the present affidavit has been filed. Since the present affidavit also involves some policy issues, the same was placed before the Council of Ministers, which has since approved the same for filing before this Hon’ble Court.”
The Foundation is concerned that there are few signs that any of these 39 commitments are in place though we are reaching the end of the year 2023.
“For example, the commitment to create 435 posts in the Mines Department has not been implemented, though approved in 2013. On the contrary, the Department has seen a steady stream of civil service cadre officers – with little or no skills or expertise in mining – being appointed as its directors. The turnover is high since these officers are still being pressurized to issue orders that favour the private mining lobby that continues to exercise undue influence on the political decision-making as far as mining operations are concerned,” Goa Foundation said.
The foundations aid there is no laboratory under the department to analyze mineral ore samples, and the government is forced to rely upon the results from a severely compromised private laboratory in the state.
:This is unacceptable. All mining transactions in the past have been done on the basis of self-reporting by miners, which is also unacceptable,” it stated.
The Foundation says that there are still no developments on exclusive mining corridors for movement of ore in both north and south district mining areas.
“The MOEF&CC has banned movement of mining trucks through village roads. The public has been harassed enough by bumper to bumper mining traffic in these areas and is not willing to have a repeat of these scenarios,” it stated.
None of the investigations launched by the DMG through the SIT has resulted in any convictions, and the SIT is now crippled with no senior officers in command, Goa Foundation says.
“The persons responsible for illegal mining have neither been identified nor penalized in any manner. Money from illegal mining is yet to be recovered. New mining auctions are being conducted without ensuring that the damage caused by the previous lease-holders has been rehabilitated or compensated,” it said.
The 39 conditions are only the most urgent of the over hundred commitments made by the Goa government, including removal of all traders from the ore movement chain. Traders are back in full force, and the department is doing business with them, as if all the assurances it made on oath to the apex court are to be treated as mere pieces of paper.
The letter concludes with a notice on re-start of mining operations in the state:
“We hope that our highlighting of these improvements – to which government is committed – will be taken in proper spirit by the department, but we also issue due notice that if these matters are not resolved for more efficient and transparent functioning of the department, prospect of resumption of mining under older regime practices will be challenged,” GF said.
It added, “I am specifically writing to you to dispel any illusion that the department may have that mining will resume without these conditions being first met to the satisfaction of the public who, I reiterate, is the owner of the minerals,” it said.